Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!
by Amy McNulty,
With just a few episodes left in the series, Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! has hit its stride. The earliest episodes showed promise, as the show confidently straddled the line between magical girl parody and outright enjoyable magical girl (boy) show on its own, a la Pretty Sammy. Now that the viewers are even more familiar with the characters and the show's formula, it all comes together adeptly in episode 9.
The episode still largely focuses on the monster of the day pattern, but it's not just a quick aside at the end of the episode this time. Instead, the episode gives the formula a fresh spin by showcasing the Conquest Club's selection process for turning a target into a monster, even humorously having that character comment on what's going on around him as they do. Instead of immediately succumbing to the power of love, the monster of the day challenges the Battle Lovers to a duel at a later time in a different location. It reeks of a trap, but the boys have nothing better to do anyway.
The monster of the day, who takes on the appearance of a melon, is an example of absurdity and parody done right. He taunts the Battle Lovers with melon-based trivia, promising them the answers only if they show up at the top of a Mount Binan. In the next scene, Ryuu tells Yumoto all of the answers and more melon-based factoids thanks to the Internet. The Riddler would probably have to up his game in the modern age too.
Another highlight is the montage of vicious traps the melon monster sets on the mountain, which the team quickly dispenses with, never once pausing their jovial conversations. The only scene that seems wedged in is the Press Society's appearance (from beneath the waters of the bathhouse) to take cosplay photos of the Earth Defense Club for a calendar. They express an interest in taking gravure photos of the Earth Defense Club as part of a grand moneymaking venture, but it's more like a wink at the audience and a chance for the viewers to see the main characters in different attire. The boys go along with it for travel funds. Nevertheless, the bit doesn't drag on too long. Thankfully, the flat characterization isn't an issue this week, as there's so much else going on in the episode. En momentarily putting the brakes on his trademark laziness to mock Yumoto's endless enthusiasm leads to one of the funniest jokes of the week.
Episode 9 demonstrates that the show entertains best when it's both a parody and a magical boy show in its own right. The fact that the boys are able to talk the melon monster down before they heal him with love is another fun twist on the give-speeches-about-justice-to-monster-then-heal-with-love formula. Overall, the viewers spend more time with this monster than any of the previous ones, paving the way for laughs aplenty.
Amy is a YA fantasy author who has loved anime for two decades.
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